“It’s not lost on anybody that it’s an election year. I understand that. I’ve noticed,” Obama continued, drawing shouts of “four more years!” “But we’ve got responsibilities that are bigger than an election. My message to Congress now is that it’s not time to play politics, not time to sit on your hands. Americans expect their leaders to work hard no matter what year it is.”
The debate has picked up new urgency as the job growth numbers have slowed.
During the winter months, as hiring picked up and the economy added more than 200,000 jobs each month from December through February, Obama grew increasingly confident in his public remarks.
Although he was careful to say each time that more work had to be done to ensure a full and faster recovery, the president sounded an upbeat note in early March during an appearance at a Rolls Royce factory in Prince George, Va., on the day the February jobs report, showing a net gain of 227,000 jobs, was issued.
“More companies are bringing jobs back and investing in America, and manufacturing is adding jobs for first time since the 1990s,” he said then. “We just had another good month last month in terms of adding manufacturing jobs. The economy is getting stronger.”
But hiring fell dramatically in March, when 120,000 jobs were added, and the bad news has continued since then. The May report also revised the April jobs numbers downward, from 115,000 to 77,000.
The administration, and the Obama campaign, have sought to emphasize what White House spokesman Joshua Earnest on Friday called “longer-term trends” that show the economy adding private-sector jobs for 24 consecutive months.
Obama, as he has for months, reminded his supporters that his administration inherited a bleak financial picture during the Great Recession in 2009
“From the moment we first took action prevent another depression, we knew the road to recover would not be easy. We knew there would be ups and downs along the way,” he said. “But we also knew if we willing to keep at it, if we were willing to roll up our sleeves and never quit, we would not just come back but come back stronger than ever.
“That continues to be my belief. We will come back stronger. We will have better days ahead.”
After speaking at the Honeywell facility, Obama was scheduled to attend three campaign fundraising events in Minneapolis, then fly to Chicago for three more fundraisers in his home town.
He will remain overnight in Chicago and sleep at his home in Kenwood, perhaps a momentary respite from the political headaches that await back in Washington.